Faulkner or Flannery? (Or Cheever, Ellison…)

51faulkner_jack_photoTo celebrate the 60th anniversary of the National Book Awards, the National Book Foundation is asking the public to vote on the best of their fiction award-winners.

Actually, we can vote on the best of six finalists. A panel of 140 past winners, finalists and judges narrowed down the 77 winning titles since 1950. Voting starts today and runs through midnight on Oct. 21.

One voter will win two tickets to the 60th National Book Awards on Nov. 18 (and two nights in the Marriott Hotel Downtown in NYC). Vote here.

The top 6:

The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1951)

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1953)

The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (1972)

Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon (1974)

The Stories of John Cheever (1981)

The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1983)Flannery O'Conner

Anyone have a beef with this list? What else should have been on there? You may notice that of the six short-listed titles, four are collections of stories. Also, the most recently-published book on the list came out over 25 years ago.

Like any best-of roundup, the short list will likely inspire controversy. (For example, I know more than one person who’d be happy on a desert island with nothing but Walker Percy’s 1962 winner The Moviegoer.)

Of the 77 fiction winners from 1950 to 2008, 74 are still in print. If you’re interested in some of the past winners (starting with Nelson Algren’s The Man with the Golden Arm in 1950 and running through Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country in 2008), check out the National Book Foundation’s book-a-day blog, which features in-depth info and summaries about each book.

And stay tuned, because this year’s finalists will be announced on Oct. 13. Any readers want to speculate in any of the categories (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature)?

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